At first glance, up-and-coming singer That Poppy seems pretty unassuming: a petite, young looking blonde with giant brown eyes who is obsessed with the color pink (specifically that perfect shade of bubblegum pink). Diving deeper into her persona, she is the opposite of conventional, debunking the stereotype of what it means to be a pop star. There’s a catchiness to her music, of course; a special skill she clearly has to produce a radio-ready banger but there’s nothing artificial about her or her music.
When she walked into our studio, even without makeup and in casual attire, she still dressed the part of Poppy with pink Adidas trainers, flared pants, a structured jacket, and a perfectly pink manicure. She was soft-spoken but not quiet as she politely and professionally guided us through her routine of becoming Poppy.
Continuously breaking down the confines of what pop music should be, Poppy’s artistry expands beyond what is sung. With her slew of wonderfully bizarre YouTube videos, That Poppy is also a visual artist creating longform art statements that range from her reading The Bible for 50 minutes, eating Pop Rocks, and repeatedly declaring “I’m Poppy”.
A mix of grunge and pop, similar to her inspirations No Doubt and Cyndi Lauper, That Poppy brings forth this burst of sonically satisfying tunes that waiver from energetic to calm and chill. Her first single “Everybody Wants To Be Poppy” was a bold statement and the foundation of her undeniably charming brand. With social media constantly changing and challenging the traditional way of marketing an artist, it’s no wonder that someone like Poppy thrived under the wild, wild west of the internet. And the most brilliant thing is that her persona loves her fans and her followers, which in turn multiplies those fans and followers because we thrive on acceptance and love, especially when it comes from an “unreachable” being. Each platform has allowed her to show a specific side of herself: bright and bubbly on Instagram, quirky on Twitter, and experimental on YouTube. By fully forming her identity through these outlets, fans can experience all that Poppy has to offer. What this means for her music is that it is free to blur lines, defy genres, and simply be Poppy.
Poppy is definitely youthful, but her true age seems to be a mystery. “Age is a weird thing. You’re either too young to be taken seriously or you’re too old to be considered ‘successful’ or ‘cool,'” she said. Age is something people obsess over; it allows society to project certain expectations onto you and while Poppy doesn’t outwardly reveal a physical date of birth, the concept of age is something that echoes throughout her debut EP Bubblebath. “All these years on my own / Fight my fight all alone” she sings on her reggae-infused lead single “Lowlife.” It feels more adult than “Everybody Wants To Be Poppy,” whatever that means. While staying aligned with her self-created image, “Lowlife” branches into more complex social constructs that plague us everyday.
As the day went on and the longer we spent with Poppy, the more I realized there was a quiet power that hovered over her. She has been on her own for awhile, a lot longer than expected for someone of her age, and with that independence a certain level of maturity and confidence was acquired. But even with that mentality, the most beautiful thing about our time with Poppy was her warmth. It’s hard to find people who are aware of the cynical aspects of the world but rise above it and still surround themselves with that little bit of sparkle to propel them forward.
And that character of Poppy has started to become a very real symbol for herself as well as the people who want to believe that there is still good in this world, especially a type of good with no ulterior motives. The reality is that there are very few people like Poppy. Despite her independence, the most important thing I learned from her is that we’re all much better off as a unit. The collectiveness of all of us is what makes us stronger and truly unleashes the absolute best in us. “People will always try to bring you down or cover you with dark energy and it’s best to put your mind where it’s the most free,” she explained. “When you create stuff, it’s more fun when you do it with a lot of people and you collaborate. It’s not just a one way street. You want to find people you can create with so you can add more magic into this world. I want to inspire people to create their own powerful light energy that they can surround themselves with.”